As the first rays of sunshine peer through the clouds we’re given an inkling that maybe, just maybe spring could be around the corner. Of course things can change so quickly we’ll probably be scraping frost from the windscreen before setting off to work by the end of the week, but we can but hope! One thing for sure however, is that now is the time for preparation.
As the cold winter days are starting to subside and the ground is warming up, now is the ideal time to get yourself outside into the fresh air and start to tend to the Veg Plot. Although sowing seeds is not a good idea, as they will likely rot, digging in manure and making repairs to raised beds or building new ones are good jobs for the winter months and will help keep you warm while you work.
If you don’t feel quite ready to don the wellies yet however, you can always get the seed preparations underway. Garden centres are full of displays of seeds, onion sets and seed potatoes. However the first stage isn’t necessarily to go and throw ten packets of veg seeds in a basket just to feel as though you’ve done something. An hour or two spent laying out some plans for what you want to grow and designing the layout for the year would be time well invested.
Some important things to take into consideration are:
- space – make sure varieties you buy will fit in your veg plot and leave space for everything else you want to grow this year
- companion planting – whether you want to try this in your plot
- succession planting – leave space to plant seeds like lettuce and cabbages every few weeks so you have a regular supply of vegetables
- rotation – make best use of nutrients in the soil and prevent disease build-up
- extending the season – if you want to use polytunnels or coldframes to promote a longer growing season, make sure you leave enough space in your plans
As well as ensuring you think about everything you want to achieve from your plot, you need to think about how much time you have to invest in the vegetable plot, whether you set aside a daily slot or weekly slot. Obviously through the summer months, if the weather is warm, you will need to ensure you supply your veg with enough fresh water, but if you don’t keep on top of weeds and monitor for pests and diseases regularly, you could end up with a lot of hard work to do and your harvest could be dented as a result.
Once your main layout is set up and the seeds are planted, keeping to a routine of 30 minutes a day or an hour every other day should be enough to keep an average sized plot in check. The main thing is to enjoy your time in the veg garden, and a bit of forward planning should mean you can enjoy many sunny afternoons among the vegetables admiring the fruits of your labour.